Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Needle and The Damage Done

Forgive me father for I have sinned.
It's been about 3 weeks since my last tattoo.
I mark the time not only because it's always been too long since my last tattoo, but because Canadian Blood Services requires 6 months between a tattoo and a donation.
I'm a card-carrying blood donor, and I used to be a regular donor, because I believed that this was part of good citizenship.
Apparently, though, there is no great need for blood in Canada.
We're fine.
Sure the blood donation clinics appear to be recruiting new donors constantly, and even send out blood mobiles so you can donate on the go. Because you might be thinking about potentially saving someone's life, but then decide the drive down the block is just too much. They claim that the greatest threat to our blood supply is the shortage of blood. There aren't enough new donors, and there isn't enough commitment among existing donors.
And yet.
I was a willing donor, albeit a difficult one.
Admittedly, I am one of those people who is hard to stick.
A regular hospital nurse probably can't get a needle in my vein, at least not in under a dozen tries, which is mercifully as many as they're willing to attempt before calling a more experienced technician from the lab.
I'm sorry.
I'm so sorry that my veins are not as cooperative as they should be.
Because of my hard-to-prickness, needles don't really make me flinch anymore. I don't enjoy them, and I come out covered in bruises, but I can take it.
Apparently the nurses at the donation centre cannot.
They have basically told me not to bother coming back.
I make their job hard.
According to them, the blood flows so readily in this country that they can turn away willing volunteers. I sort of thought that if I'm ready to be jabbed, they should be willing to do the jabbing. No?
Must be nice.
I only hope they're right, and not just lazy.

The sad thing is, mine is not the only blood they're turning away.
They also have a lifetime ban for all gay men, regardless of risk factors or relationship status.
They're banned just for having sex with other men, which is not only discriminatory, but also completely ignorant. Science unanimously agrees that the ban is without merit, every unit is tested for HIV anyway, and the fastest growing population segment in terms of new HIV cases is women, according to Canadian AIDS Society. Should we ban them too?

Well, this one already is.
It's fine.
You're probably not planning on getting chemo or having a car accident any time soon anyway.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The number you have reached is not in service.

I'm not a Luddite, I'm worse. I'm lazy.
I'll adopt new technology, but reluctantly, after a lot of foot-dragging and complaining for no reason. I want to keep my old crap forever, one, because I have an inherent distaste for technological obsolescence and two, because I have an inherent dislike for learning new tricks.
I am an old dog.
So when my blackberry, which was reliable and fuchsia, two of my favourite qualities in electronics, started to be not so reliable, I made some excuses for it initially.
I asked Sean to follow up texts with emails.
I told friends to expect up to 3-hour delays, so if something was time-sensitive, to just go ahead and drop a note in the mailbox and that way I'd be sure to get it.
And to be fair, I do spend a fair bit of time in a concrete box, which I hear is not optimal for reception.
And also, I knew how to set the alarm. I knew how to retrieve voicemails (whether I actually do this or not is none of your business). I had developed a pretty quick way of texting on the tiny little key pad and had the thumb callus to prove it.
Do I want a new phone?
No, I do not.
Mine still pretty much works almost most of the time.
And if it wasn't for the fact that my business card has "crisis" in the title, that might have been okay. My blackberry and I might have been buddies for 7 more years, or until one of us died, or until we were released from our cell phone provider's contract, which is more binding than any marriage.

I did it.
I traded her in.
I brought home a gigantic tablet-pretending-to-be-a-phone and despite the fact that I don't know how to use it, cannot even pick up a phone call with more than 50% accuracy, I do kind of love it.
Not wanting to just throw away a phone that's still got some life (not to mention some fuchsia) left in her, I put my old phone up for sale on Kijiji, thinking that someone might at least want it for the battery or the charger.

I did not expect to meet Larry David.
Well, okay, I did not actually meet Larry David, but I did meet his doppelganger.
Not-Larry David, as it turns out, has a real hard on for Blackberrys.
He's had his since the dark ages, like 5 years ago at least! His is still reliable-ish enough, but it isn't just his personal cell phone usage that has made him a fan. There's also the experiments he conducts in his backyard.

Not-Larry David builds trebuchets.
And if you know anything about men, give them a trebuchet, and they will launch shit with it. Like, all kinds of shit. Blackberrys, for example. And apples. And watermelons.

He takes a Blackberry, zips it in a baggie, and then stuffs it in a watermelon.
He does the same with an iphone.

Then he catapults them both up to 400 feet.

The blackberry, he tells me, fares much better.
Much, much better.

And I am inclined to believe him.
My blackberry survived 2 baths, and I'm talking total immersion, several feet worth of ker-plunk, as well as a semi-permanent residency in my nephew's mouth the first year of his life.

So now my cell phone is off having a glamorous second life as a test dummy.
My new phone is pretty cool. You can draw on it, talk to it, and take hand-written notation. It also knows way too much about me for me to ever throw it away, or give it to a Not-Larry David type. I think it knows this. This is not just a smart phone - it's a smart aleck phone. It corrects me. It suggests that it knows better what I'd like to eat than I do. It's constantly telling me a better way to get home. It gives me conflicting weather reports. It's the kind of smart that makes me feel like I'm living in a world foretold by Isaac Asimov. And it will probably never seen the inside of a watermelon,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Winter That Would Not Die.

The weather network has issued a winter storm warning for tomorrow, this despite the fact that it's actually spring, and has been for several weeks.

What does it mean when the meteorologists can't even accurately predict the seasons any more?

Don't Look Back in Anger

The worst thing about having a blog is that you've put all your junk out there and now it's impossible to take it back. Not that I want to. Well okay, I sort of want to. You'd think the bits featuring ex-lovers would be the most distasteful to me, but I cringe more at bad writing than at bad judgement in who I fuck.


This thing goes back 9 years. 9 freakin years! Some of the things I wrote about are disturbing, but what is most disturbing is that some of the things I wrote about are completely unfamiliar to me. I have no memory of this mundane stuff, and it would have been completely lost had I not written it down. I also suffer from revisionist's history, and the temptation to delete delete delete is strong. I am resisting, barely.

I believe in the whole "my history has made me who I am" bullocks. No really, I do. It's all good, but I think it's better in broad strokes than the gritty details.

In a way I feel like an archaeologist, sifting through another lifetime. It hardly feels like mine. Reading about such ancient history is a bit like masturbating with your left hand.

But it's cool in a way, to know that I used to have a bumblebee jar, and that I used to love my ex-husband. I have written records of these things for where my memory has blanked, or balked.

Someone I met through blogging recently noted that I was very unlike the person she first started reading about so many years ago. She's right. Most of the best parts of my life are less than 9 years old. I've had to rebuild my life, and although the construction is new, I think the foundation is pretty much the same. I have not been static. I hope never to be. I hope in 9 years from now I'll have had less drama but just as much reinvention.

The best thing about having a blog, incidentally, is reading comments. Unfortunately, being nearly completely e-tarded, I lost the vast majority of comments when I converted from one platform to another, and anything collected on haloscan did not follow. That aggrieves me more than I can express because I value the discourse, and the community that was fostered through blogging. I still have a few left though, and it's almost mind-blowing to realize what a long history I've had with people I've shared such intimacy with yet never actually met. Maybe it's time to give the old goat a makeover, but I'm not ready to let go. Looking back, I can only conclude that writing here has been a valuable and enriching part of my life. And if, at times, it also makes me want to die of embarrassment, well, what else are diaries for?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Did you read Half the Sky?
If you haven't, you should.
If you have, I bet you still remember every single word.
It's one of those books that stays with you.
It's been several years since I read it and I remain deeply moved and impacted by it.
Today I am watching the documentary feature that is just as horrifying and inspiring and awful yet necessary to watch.
You don't watch a rape centre in Sierra Leone deal with literally thousands of victims, over half of whom are between the ages of 12-17, and a quarter of whom are under 12 - the youngest just two and a half months, and not come away a slightly different person. Less than 1% of these cases result in charges\convictions, in part because on the law books, you can only rape a woman - rape does not legally exist for those under 14, even though it happens every single day, and 90% of young rape victims wind up with sexually transmitted infections. Rape is a shame on the victim, not the perpetrator. Your heart will be broken. You will be filled with rage
And that's just the unit in Sierra Leone.
Wait until you meet the courageous women of Cambodia, the girls who are bought and sold as children, trafficked into brothels, held as sex slaves until they are no longer useful. When you see a little girl have her eye gouged out by a brothel owner but forced to continue seeing clients while still bleeding (and they're so drunk they don't care) and then recount barely surviving an abortion yet still have forgiveness in her heart...it's not even comprehensible. These girls, even rescued from the brothels, are still rejected by their families for being "bad". It is often their families who sold them in the first place.
And it goes on.
The aim of the book and of this film is to highlight the oppression of women right now, embarrassingly in the 21st century, to show the violence and discrimination that is gender-based, directed expressly toward women because they are women. There are victims here, but there are also heroes.

Friday, April 05, 2013

System Upgrade

When you've suffered the embarrassment of multiple marriages, it is considered uncharitable to compare one husband to another. It is gauche to say that the new husband is taller, handsomer, richer, and has a bigger dick, even though he does.

When my last fairy tale ended up in the psycho-horror section, it felt like I was destroyed at the time. It was impossible to imagine my life ever righting itself after such a devastating wrong. Such feelings are transient, things are never as bad as they seem and in fact it wasn't very long at all before I realized that this was a positive move for me, an upward move, an improvement. And just as I was finding out what a relief it was to no longer be attached to 200 pounds of depressed man, he was finding out that he was still 200 pounds of depressed man.

In short, he refused to grant me a divorce. I live in Canada, where I do not need his permission, but the courts do not make it easy and so of course neither did he. He hid. I sought. I was made to take out ads in the newspaper, contact his relatives, hire a private detective. Marriage, in the end, is just a piece of paper, but that paper meant something to me, always did, always will. I didn't sign my name to it lightly, nor did I seek to have it removed without the same amount of thought and gravitas. I wanted to be free, felt I had earned it, and so I jumped through hoops.

This of course took years. Years during which I struggled to find the perfect moment during a first date, or a second date, or a third date to drop the bomb: yup, still married. But very, very separated, I assured them all. Years during which I still carried his dumb last name hyphenated to my father's dumb last name. Years during which I rebuilt my life without him in it, without the stuff that he stole, knowing that whatever I amassed now could still potentially be his. If I had been hit by a car, he had the legal right to pull the plug.

And yet, I found happiness. Big, crazy, banana-split happiness. You don't realize how much you're sacrificing of yourself until you don't have to do it anymore. When I stood on my own, I stood so much taller. And then I met Sean.
I had never seriously thought of remarrying, in part because I wasn't divorced, and in part because I never thought I'd marry in the first place. I had learned to never say never, but I was still surprised at how quickly and deeply I fell. I fell hard.

Within just a few months we were living together and engaged to be married. Engaged to be married, and also married. To someone else. Not a winning combination.

Ex continued to pop back into my life on occasion - sometimes mutual friends would report on his condition (generally not good, sometimes more alarming), other times he would randomly find me online through an old account and want to show me his pet rabbit (I wish this were a euphemism, but it's not). Obviously his mental health issues were persistent, as was his conviction to never, ever divorce.

Luckily Sean happens to be, among many a splendid thing, a lawyer. My fiance convinced my husband to divorce me by talking turkey. When my ex saw dollar signs, he signed the papers. I was on vacation in Mexico at the time, a bit stressed knowing we were planning a wedding that may or may not turn out to be legit, but sunning myself nonetheless. And then a call came in with the good news: my fiance could make a dishonest woman out of me.

It's still a bit surreal to me, that whole period of my life. The terrible end has coloured my sense of the whole relationship. I find it hard to remember the good times, and there must have been good times. The bad times are so much sharper. My family will not say his name aloud. It's as if they've wallpapered right over that decade. I gave away the old wedding dress, and threw out all his pictures. I don't need to forget, but I much prefer looking forward.

I don't hear from him so much anymore - most recently I had an email from him in my business account. He was shopping for wedding invitations. Small world? I'd say so. I wish I could say that I was happy for him, but mostly I'm just sad for her, whoever she is, and achingly happy for myself. Happy that I got away. Happy in a better life.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Tingles

Do you want to sleep with me?

No, I want to stay awake all night with you.

Hotel Californication

 The difference between a regular hotel and a bed and breakfast is not so much the breakfast itself, but the fact of having to eat it with the other guests the morning after you’ve had loud, disruptive sex and kept them all from a good night’s sleep. A hotel’s relative anonymity means you might get some wall-knocks in response to your bed-rattling, curtain-swinging, sheet-crumpling session, but you’ll never have to face them the next day and ask them to please pass the jam.

Polly Pocket

Recently I bought a pair of pants without pockets.
I guess this is not blog-worthy news since upon reflection, I have many pairs of dress pants that have no pockets.
But these particular pants are jeans, and they don't not have pockets, they have mock pockets.
Mock pockets!
As in, there is a suggestion of pocket. Just enough of a hint of pocketdom for me to get them home from the store where I subsequently wore them, and when my fingers naturally found the lip of the pocket, they were shut out. No pocket for you.
Yes, it seems like there will be a pocket.
There should be a pocket.
But there just isn't.
However, they are decoratively pocket-like.
You know, for those times when you feel like the look of a pocket, but not the convenience of actually having one.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

I Dyslexia Heart

I have been learning-disabled my whole life, but no one bothered to notice until I was in University. As part of the psychology program, we had to take all of the tests that we would later be administering, and my faculty adviser awkwardly called me into his office to tell me the news that teachers and school counselors had been overlooking for the past 20 years of my life.

"Luckily" I was such a voracious reader that I had basically wired my own brain to compensate for most of my deficiencies by then - I do misread often enough, but instead of stumbling over these words, my brain very quickly forms an idea of what it must be, and I move on. Therefore I may have decided that a word is distinct when it is actually distant, and yes, that mean trouble but usually I'll figure it out in context.

For me, the biggest problem seems to be in transposing letters or mistaking blocks of sound. I often mispronounce words while speaking, vowels especially, and my friends and family have no problem about teasing me about it mercilessly. My common stumbling blocks include:

epitome - I know that it is pronounced eh pit o me, but I will almost always says eh pi tome, tome like the kind of book. That's what I see, and that's what I say. I also make a similar sound when I pronounce fathom - again, I know rationally that it should be fath-um, but I say fath"om" (like the tantric yoga sound that rhymes with tome).

Now, it doesn't help that I "learned" to read in french first, and taught myself to read in english based on french building blocks, which is enough to screw anyone up. Quite a few of my most common mistakes are because mix up grammar with grammaire. And yes, if you're wondering, I am fluently dyslexic. Je suis egalement dyslexique dans les deux langues officielles, et meme en certaines autres.

This morning I read Besnard Lakes but understood Barenaked Ladies. It was in a tweet from Rolling Stone, so I feel like it was just my brain doing the best it could. That's the trickiest part about my dyslexia - it's hard to know I've made a mistake when my brain doesn't produce a random string of wrongness, but a plausible alternative.

Well, okay, not always so plausible. I remember in Toronto, there was a church located smack-dab in the middle of the pedestrian commute between my house and my friend's house. I'd walk by it often, and though it called itself the Holy Rosary, every day it translated as Roly Hosiery in my head. And the thing is, I could picture those stupid nylons and the way they never stay up properly but just keep rolling down uncomfortably, and you have to discreetly readjust every so often. This loomed so largely in my head that I could never recover from Roly Hosiery even though I knew with all of Christ's conviction that no church would ever boast such a name.